The only Palestinian RSVP to the White House's Bahrain conference so far
Ashraf Al-Jabari, a businessman from Hebron who maintains ties to the Trump administration, is the only Palestinian so far who will attend the U.S.-led economic conference in Bahrain, the first phase of the launch of the White House's Middle East peace plan.
Why it matters: The fact that Al-Jabari is the only Palestinian willing to attend the event is a testament to the problems the Trump administration is having with promoting its peace plan. That's been exacerbated by fractured relations with Palestinian leadership since 2017, which occurred after the White House's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
- Al-Jabari, who maintains a relationship with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, doesn't represent the mainstream of the Palestinian business community.
- He has close ties to the settler lobby in Israel and to settler leadership in the occupied West Bank. He is part of a settler organization called "The Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce" and publicly supported Israeli annexation of the West Bank and a one-state solution.
- He even formed a new political party that presents itself as opposition to the Palestinian Authority.
The big picture: Influential Palestinian businessmen who were invited to the conference have already publicly rejected the invitation. They include:
- Bashar Al-Masri, the Palestinian real estate tycoon who was behind Rawabi, a new Palestinian city in the West Bank.
- Zahi Khouri, the Palestinian-American entrepreneur who holds the franchise for Coca-Cola in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Abed Alkarim Ashour, a Palestinian businessman from Gaza, who posted on his Facebook page the conference invitation he got from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and wrote: "The Bahrain conference aims at selling Palestine for a fistful of dollars - you in invited the wrong person."